Volume 2, Issue 40February 9, 2011
Grant funds still flowing to states, communities throughout country

Mary Scott NabersThousands of public entities throughout the country write grant applications each year. 
States, as well as the federal government, hand out billions in grant funds for all types of projects. Because of budget constraints this year, competition for these funds is keener than ever. It seems appropriate to provide a few tips on how to write grant proposals that appeal to reviewers and result in funding.


The first critical task is to make sure the proposal document is easy to read and understand. The objective should be simply stated and there must be a sound justification for the project.  Reviewers want to feel comfortable that grantees will be organized and judicious in using the money, so it is important to lay out not only objectives but also timelines, project management plans and benchmarks.




Obama proposes rail network
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Obama proposes ambitious national rail network


Plan calls for $53 billion infusion of funds over period of six years

High-Speed RailA national rail network is the goal of an ambitious $53 billion high-speed rail proposal unveiled this week by the White House. President Barack Obama's plan would infuse billions over the next six years on passenger trains and intercity high-speed rail projects.

Initially, the proposal calls for an $8 billion investment next year in high-speed rail aimed at connecting major population centers. The proposal was announced in Philadelphia by Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. The two officials say a federal investment will allow local and state governments to begin their own planning. The president could promote the proposal to Congress as early as next week. 

Rail coalitions are getting on board with the proposal, even though funding per state has not yet been identified.


"In order to win the future and grow America's economy over the long-term, we must modernize our national transportation network," said La Hood. "We're committed to repairing our existing infrastructure and building new ways to move people, goods and information around so we can strengthen our communities and our economy."


Florida governor's budget moves Office of Early Learning


Officials unsure what would result for ELIS system if program moved to DOEf

Rick ScottAmong the proposals in Florida Gov. Rick Scott's (pictured) budget is the moving of the Office of Early Learning from the state's Agency for Workforce Innovation to the Florida Department of Education.


The Office of Early Learning was formed to ensure the accessibility, affordability and quality of early learning programs for the children and families of Florida. The office also administers the Voluntary Pre-K Program. Begun in 2005, the program was intended to prepare four-year-olds in the state for kindergarten as a foundation for their education. The programs include high literacy standards, accountability, curriculum that is appropriate for the students, small class sizes and substantial periods of instruction from highly qualified instructors.


It is expected that boards representing early learning coalitions will fight the move of this program and others to the Department of Education. They will likely oppose a huge bureaucratic agency taking over a program that came about from welfare reform of the mid 1990s. A portion of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) funding was set aside for childcare for parents returning from welfare to work. Local workforce boards and early learning coalitions were set up throughout Florida so there would be more local control over these issues.


The Early Learning Information System (ELIS) was developed by the Agency for Workforce Innovation to allow the Early Learning programs to serve more children and their families, early learning coalitions, child care providers and the state agency to continue to provide the activities to ensure the early educational needs of those young children.


The ELIS currently resides with the Agency for Workforce Innovation. Should Gov. Scott's budget proposal pass, that system would likely follow the Office of Early Learning to the Department of Education.


Scott's two-year budget still a question mark


In state where annual budget required, revenue forecast may be difficult

Budget CutsFlorida Gov. Rick Scott has proposed a budget plan of $65.9 million that follows his pre-election rhetoric. His plan includes cutting $3.3 billion from education, doing away with 8,700 state jobs and implementing an across-the-board 5 percent reduction in Medicaid payments to health care providers.

He estimates that his budget will save taxpayers $1.7 billion for 2011-12 and $4.1 billion over two years. However, his proposal is a two-year budget and the state's constitution and statutes provide for an annual budget - and it must be balanced. 

Although Scott's two-year budget can be seen as a foundation for planning purposes, the state statutes would have to be changed to move the state to a two-year budget cycle. And like most other states that are facing turbulent revenue estimates, it could be difficult for Florida to estimate what revenues will be available for appropriation.

Legislators have already promised that they will "closely examine" the governor's budget proposal.


Looking for P3 opportunities?

SPI, with 15+ years of experience in partnering public and private sector partners, has become the premier P3 partner connection in the United States. 


SPI is currently working throughout the country on P3 initiatives and is available for conversations with any public entity interested in asking questions, discussing national trends or obtaining advice about how to reach out to private sector firms.


Interested parties should call Reagan Weil at 512-531-3900 to schedule a conversation.


Upcoming education opportunities


University of Nebraska planning two new residence halls

Keith ZaborowskiThe University of Nebraska-Lincoln is planning two new residence halls on City Campus. Each would include approximately 1,000 beds and could replace two other dorms. The dorms are still in the planning stages but could be considered by regents in June or July.  Keith Zaborowski (pictured), associate director of university housing, said the cost to renovate the two existing halls is high and new halls could offer more amenities with single and double bedrooms, furnished living rooms and baths shared by four students. More students seem to be interested in apartment- and suite-style housing, officials said.


Florida charter school could soon expand to include high school

Land purchase is the first step toward the possible expansion of the Learning Gate Community School - a charter school in Lutz, Florida. The property would house the charter school's new high school. The current campus includes seventh and eighth graders, who would be moved to the new campus. Officials are seeking approval for a new high school from the school district, since the charter school currently only has approval for an elementary and middle school. 


University of Georgia planning $11.4 million in renovations on four sites

Tim BurgessFour buildings on the Navy Supply Corps base will be renovated by the University of Georgia for $11.4 million. The buildings will become the base for a new Health Sciences Campus. UGA administrators have asked regents to approve hiring a construction manager and design manager. Renovations could begin as early as this summer, shortly after the state takes title to the 58-acre campus. The campus was vacated in October when the Supply Corps school moved to Rhode Island. The floor plans will be redesigned and the heating and cooling systems would be replaced, said Tim Burgess (pictured), UGA senior vice president for business and finance. The state will not be asked to help finance the project. The university has accumulated enough money to cover the costs. The 13,500-square-foot Winnie Davis Hall and the 58,000-square-foot Russell Hall will be used for the medical partnership now housed east of the main UGA campus. The Carnegie Library will be renovated but remain a library. The Miller Hall, 23,000-square feet, will be used for other departments of the UGA College of Public Health.


New Hampshire district preparing to build new elementary school

Officials preparing for construction of the new Christa McAuliffe Elementary School in New Hampshire are taking their first step with the demolition of properties previously purchased for the site in the Concord School District. Any dangerous materials would first be removed and materials salvaged. Steel, concrete, copper, mechanical units and other materials will soon be purchased.


Three Detroit high schools undergoing $60 million in renovations

Denby, Henry Ford and Western International high schools in Detroit are about to get $60 million in renovations that are hoped will provide a better learning environment for students. Additionally, 130 new classrooms will be added as part of a $500.5 million construction bond. New technology such as interactive whiteboards and new classroom lighting and floors, new paint and new science equipment are in the plan. Denby will get a new common area for student dining and a renovated auditorium. Henry Ford will have two new technology labs and upgrades to infrastructure. The funds are from a 2009 voter-approved bond referendum that provides renovations or rebuilding of 18 schools.

Virginia public school system approves upgrades to facilities

Carl SchmittSchools in Greene County, Virginia, will benefit from the county's approval of a multi-million-dollar project to improve facilities. County supervisors approved the school district applying for a loan of up to $4.7 million for the project. The project would include rebuilding of the track, regrading the infield and the competition field, creating new baseball and softball venues and practice fields and adding a new facility with concessions area and restrooms. Supervisor Carl Schmitt (pictured) said the school administration is "asking for basic facilities that bring us up to at least an acceptable level."


Classroom space to improve for schools in New Mexico district

The classrooms in the Belen, New Mexico, schools will improve thanks to passage of a $23.75 million bond issue. Belen High School will get a new indoor community pool and a new building for Belen's Family School. The first phase of bond sales is likely to occur next fall. Most of the funding will be for new buildings and to improve older schools. Among the projects planned are a $2 million replacement wing at Dennis Chavez Elementary, a new $3 million Family School building, a $2 million industrial arts building at Belen Middle School, $2 million in technology upgrades throughout the district and $2 million for a classroom addition at La Merced Elementary.


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MaineHousing qualifies for funding for more weatherization

Dale McCormickMaineHousing, Maine's State Housing Authority, got a boost for its housing weatherization program from part of $40 million in funds being made available by a car manufacturer. Energy efficiency upgrades are now on tap for improving 5,500 low-income homes. As part of the program, energy professionals will blow recycled content insulation into walls and ceilings, replace loose attic hatches with new ones, seal chimneys, insulate exposed foundations and tune heating systems for efficiency. MaineHousing Director Dale McCormick (pictured) said the funding will be used "to weatherize the homes of families who can't afford the fuel to stay warm." The total amount of the grant funding has not yet been determined. 


New downtown city hall/library complex planned in Florida city

City commissioners in Haines City, Florida, have voted to hire an architect to design a new downtown city hall/library complex. The commission will soon seek bids for a construction manager for the project. The commission voted last November for an $11.7 million bond issue to finance the complex and bought the last two properties for the site in January. The facility will include a 20,000-square-foot library and an 18,000-square-foot city hall. This will double the size of the current library and the city hall will more than double in size. Construction managers have until Feb. 25 to submit their qualifications.


County, cities in Washington State due public works projects

Cowlitz County and four cities in Washington State will soon have new street lighting, new sidewalks and other public works projects thanks to a $675,000 federal economic stimulus grant. The cities included in the project are Castle Rock, Kalama, Kelso and Woodland. The package includes $50,000 for the Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Council of Governments to administer the grant, which means cities separately won't have to shoulder administrative costs. The work is scheduled to be completed this summer and must be finished by April of 2012. The projects include:

  • Castle Rock - $125,000 for new, energy efficient street lights in the downtown area;
  • Kalama and Woodland - $250,000 for a paved path in Kalama and sidewalks in Woodland;
  • Kelso - $125,000 to replace aging streetlights in the downtown area with energy efficient lights, with the city contributing $13,000 toward the project; and
  • Cowlitz County - $125,000 for the county's Cook Ferry Trail to add vehicle barriers to protect the trail and its users.

Arizona governor suggests merging agency dealing with information technology

Jan BrewerArizona Gov. Jan Brewer (pictured), is proposing merging the Government Information Technology Agency (GITA) within the Department of Administration. The proposal is part of Brewer's budget proposal and the $3 million budgeted for GITA for FY 2011 would be transferred to the 2012 proposed budget for the Department of Administration. GITA is one of 10 agencies that are being considered for either consolidation or merger. GITA is the strategic planning and coordination agency for IT and provides statewide services for IT coordination and planning, IT project review and monitoring, e-government, the Statewide Information Security and Privacy Office, public safety communications and the Strategic Initiatives Unit. 


Los Angeles asked to issue bonds for $1 billion football stadium, events center

An entertainment group is proposing that the City of Los Angeles issue $350 million of bonds to pay for demolishing and rebuilding the West Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center and pay off any outstanding debt tied to it. The company wants to build a $1 billion football stadium and events center in downtown Los Angeles. It would build a privately funded 1.7 million-square-foot facility to replace the West Hall and sit next to the Staples Center. Builders say the bonds will be paid back with revenues generated from the new event center stadium and debt service could be paid with tax revenue from the new stadium and the overall project. The city still has $445 million in outstanding debt related to the convention center. The final payment is due in 2023, and company officials said that tax revenue from the new stadium and the overall project could be used to pay for debt service. The project would expand the convention center's South Hall by 90,000 square feet.


New HOT lanes project is announced for area of Virginia

Sean Connaughton Virginia Secretary of Transportation Sean T. Connaughton (pictured) has announced a new high-occupancy toll lanes (HOT) project from a point in Stafford County to one in Fairfax County with a link directly to the Capital Beltway (I-495). Plans for a ramp connecting high-occupancy vehicle lanes on I-395 to Seminary Road will also move forward. However, HOT lanes for the I-95 corridor in the state through Arlington County and Alexandria have been put on the back burner. "Honestly, the commonwealth simply cannot wait any longer to start making improvements in this corridor," said Connaughton, noting the influx of federal workers to Fort Belvoir in Fairfax and the Mark Center in Alexandria. The nearly $1 billion HOT lanes project will be managed as a public-private partnership.


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Where are they now?

 Are you a government official who has moved into a new position or to a new agency? Did you recently retire? Were you recently named to an executive-level position at a state-supported college, university or community college? Have you secured a new job as superintendent of a public school? If so, we'd like to hear from you - and so would your friends and colleagues - for our "Where Are They Now" column. Just drop us a line at and let us know about your previous job and where you are now. This week we feature Dr. Larry Kaiser.


Larry KaiserLarry Kaiser, M.D., is president of The University of Texas Health Science Center (UTHealth) at Houston. After earning his medical degree from Tulane University, Kaiser served his internship and residency in surgery at the University of California at Los Angeles. He completed his education in cardiovascular and thoracic surgery at the University of Toronto serving as Senior Resident in Thoracic Surgery in 1985. He joined the faculty on the Thoracic Service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center immediately following the completion of his residency. Kaiser moved to Washington University School of Medicine in 1988, rising to the rank of associate professor with tenure in 1990. From there, he moved in 1991 to the University of Pennsylvania as associate professor of surgery, Chief of General Thoracic Surgery, founder and Director of the Lung Transplantation Program and director of the Center for Lung Cancer and Related Disorders. He co-directed the Thoracic Oncology Research Laboratory. In 2008, he became the fifth UTHealth president. Kaiser recently announced he will leave UTHealth in April to become chief executive officer of the Temple University Health System, Senior Executive Vice President for Health Services and dean of the university's School of Medicine. 


Opportunity of the week...
A county in a state in the Northeast has secured $40,000 in federal funding that will pay for a feasibility study on a proposed biogas pipeline. The grant will cover a technical analysis of the project, including cost estimates, timeline and economic and environmental impacts the pipeline would bring. Want to know more? Contact Reagan Weil at 512-531-3900 or

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Polish your business savvy with protocol training

Sharon SchweitzerSharon Schweitzer (pictured), an International Protocol and Corporate Etiquette consultant, is the newest addition to Strategic Partnerships, Inc.'s Special Services Division. Schweitzer is certified by the Protocol School of Washington, and prepares clients to work professionally with companies around the globe as well as brush up on everyday skills in business etiquette. Schweitzer provides executive coaching sessions and corporate instruction in International Protocol, Business Etiquette, Professional Dining Savvy, Electronic Communications and Social Media.  She can answer all regarding "do's" and "don'ts" in today's increasingly connected business world. For a complete portfolio of SPI experts and services, to inquire about specific services or to inquire about becoming a part of SPI's new Special Services division, contact Brooke Hollimon at 512-531-3948 or For information on other individuals in SPI's Special Services division and their areas of expertise, click here.
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Bob EtheridgeDavid BehenMicheline CaseyFormer U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge (top left) of North Carolina has been named director of the state Office of Economic Recovery and Investment, overseeing the spending of federal stimulus funds and replacing Dempsey Benton. Michigan's new CIO is David Behen (top middle), former CIO and deputy administrator of Washtenaw County, Michigan who most recently was in charge of a private sector firm's government solutions practice, and who is replacing CIO Ken Theis and acting CIO Phyllis Mellon. Colorado's first chief data officer of the Colorado Office of Information Technology, Micheline Casey (top right), has stepped down. Eric Zeno, former member of the Leander (Texas) Planning and Zoning Commission, has been named the new economic development assistant and will be the research manager for the department while also working on business retention and expansion. Rick Thomas, superintendent of the nearby Oolagah-Talala district, has been named superintendent of the Skiatook (Oklahoma) schools and will begin his charge on July 1, replacing Gary Johnson, who resigned last summer. Robert Matthew Shatto, former assistant to the city administrator in Otto DollDavid BlumenthalSam OrthMaryland Heights, Missouri, and deputy city administrator in Lenexa, has been named the new city administrator for North Kansas City. Ohio CIO Sam Orth (middle left), who was appointed CIO in 2009 after serving as interim state CIO when Steve Edmonson resigned in 2008, has left his position to become chief technology officer for the Ohio Education Computer Network, an IT provider to public schools. Dr. David Blumenthal (middle center), who has urged health care providers switch from paper to electronic medical records, is stepping down as the health IT czar to return to Harvard University. Otto Doll (middle right), who has served as CIO for the State of South Dakota for 14 years, has been named CIO for the City of Minneapolis, where he will oversee the city's Business Information Services Department. Cynthia O'Connell, formerly director of research and promotions for the Florida Lottery, has been chosen by Gov. Rick Scott to head the lottery, bringing private sector experience to the position as well. Lubbock (Texas) Police Chief Dale Holton is retiring after 37 years with the department, effective Feb. 28, with Assistant Police Chief Roger Ellis appointed chief. Bringing 20 years of experience with him, Goldsboro, North Carolina, City Manager Joe Huffman has accepted the post of city manager in Pascagoula, taking over for Kay Kell, who has served as city manager Kristin RussellJudy WhiteRick Getschowmore than 10 years. Kristin Russell (bottom left), former vice president of global IT service operations for a private sector firm, has been named Colorado's new secretary of technology and CIO. San Bernardino (California) City Unified School District Superintendent Judy D. White (bottom center) is leaving her post to become Moreno Valley Unified Schools superintendent, replacing Interim Superintendent Nicolas Ferguson. Hopkins (Minnesota) City Manager Rick Getschow (bottom right) will leave the post he has held for six years to take over as Eden Prairie city manager. Peoria County Administrator Patrick Urich will in mid-April leave his county position he has held for 10 years to become the 16th city manager of the City of Peoria. John Poppert, superintendent of the Giltner, Nebraska, schools for the last five years, will on July 1 take over as superintendent of the St. Paul Public Schools, replacing Doug Ackles, who was with the district for 24 years. Duane M. Ford, dean of the College of Business, Industry, Life Science and Agriculture at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, has been named president of Southwest Wisconsin Technical College, replacing Karen R. Knox, who is retiring after 11 years.


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NASCIO planning 2011 Midyear Conference in D.C. in May

The National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) will hold its 2011 Midyear Conference May 3-6 at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C. Among the topics will be the evolving role of the state CIO and IT's impact in state government transformation. The annual conference provides an opportunity for state government and corporate members to discuss issues facing the IT field in both the public and private sectors. For more information and to register, click here.


TxDOT announces three Small Business Briefing conferences 

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Business Outreach and Program (BOP) Services has announced three upcoming FY 2011 Small Business Briefing conferences. A  Nov. 10 conference is set this year in Beaumont, an April 20, 2011, conference is slated in Fort Worth and a July 20, 2011, conference is planned for San Antonio. The conference goal is to provide small and minority-owned business communities an opportunity to learn more about contracting opportunities with TxDOT.  Information will be available to help them do business with the agency and the State of Texas.  The sessions not only allow small businesses to be introduced to TxDOT and other state agencies, but also allow them to learn more about the economic development opportunities in their regions.  It also gives agencies a chance to show the myriad of prospects available for small and minority businesses in the state. For more information and to register, click here or call 1.866.480.2519, Option 2.


Transportation, infrastructure convention slated in D.C. in March

The 4th Annual Transportation & Infrastructure Convention in Washington, D.C.  has been slated for March 9-11. Hear the most up-to-date information on federal policy developments-from the Executive and Congressional branches and national trade associations. Local, state and federal elected and appointed officials will be representing more than 26 states. For more information click here. To register, click here.

AGC planning annual convention in Las Vegas in March

The Associated General Contractors of America will host their 92nd Annual Convention in Las Vegas on March 21-15. General and specialty contractors will hear from experts on the latest impact of state and federal regulations on the construction industry as well as best practices for BIM and contract negotiations and advice on labor management and green building. Those attending the AGC Annual Convention will receive free admittance to the CONEXPO-CON/AGG international exposition that showcases the latest equipment, services, products and technologies, featuring more than 2,000 exhibitors. To register, click here

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